Safe food handling in the home

Following safe food handling and cooking practices at home can help prevent foodborne illness.

Explore the food preparation and eating areas of your home to learn more about safe food handling.

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Explore Safe Food Handling Practices at the Grocery Store

Kitchen

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, using the washroom and changing diapers.
Wash countertops with warm soapy water after preparing each food item.
 
Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cool, running, drinkable water, before eating them or cooking them.
Use a vegetable scrub brush on produce that have a firm skin, such as carrots, potatoes, melons and squash.
 
Cut and prepare raw meat, fish and poultry on a separate cutting board from that used to cut ready to eat vegetables, fruit or other foods.
Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
 
Properly cleaning kitchen surfaces will help eliminate bacteria and reduce your risk of foodborne illness. For added protection, use a bleach solution to sanitize. Mix 5 mL (1 tsp) of household bleach to 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a labelled spray bottle.
Always place cooked food on a clean plate. Do not use the same plates for raw and cooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood because cross-contamination can occur and this can cause foodborne illness.
 
Never leave raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood or leftovers out on the counter for longer than two hours.
Food that has been defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately after thawing.
 
Bring gravies, soups and sauces to a full, rolling boil and stir during the process.
Wash your reusable grocery bags frequently, especially if you are carrying raw meat, poultry, fish or seafood.
 
Always remember to cook raw meat, poultry and seafood to a safe internal temperature to avoid foodborne illness.
If you've used utensils to handle raw food, don't use them again until you've cleaned them thoroughly in the dishwasher or in warm, soapy water.
 
Remove the food from the heat and insert the digital food thermometer through the thickest part of the meat, all the way to the middle. Thermometer must not be touching any bones.
Avoid consuming any raw or lightly cooked eggs or egg products such as cookie dough or cake batter.
 
For more info on Canada's Food Guide.
For more information on Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures.
 

Refrigerator

Place raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator so raw juices won't drip onto other food.
You can cool leftovers quickly by placing them in shallow containers.  Refrigerate as soon as possible or within two hours.
 
Make sure your refrigerator is set to 4° C (40°F) or lower and your freezer at -18°C (0° F) or lower.  This will keep your food out of the temperature danger zone, (between 4° C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F)), where bacteria can grow quickly.
Store cut fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator.
 
Defrost your raw meat, poultry,fish or seafood in the refrigerator, in a microwave or immersed in cold water.  Don't refreeze thawed food!
Never eat hot dogs straight from the package. Hot dogs must be thoroughly cooked to a safe internal temperature. The middle of the hot dog should be steaming hot or 74°C (165°F).
 
Always store eggs in their original carton.
Use ice packs or frozen drinking boxes to keep lunches cool.
 
Don't pack your refrigerator with food - cold air must circulate to keep food safe.  Check the temperature in your refrigerator using a thermometer.
Marinate meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Do not use leftover marinade from the raw food on the cooked food.
 

Dining room

Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds after handling pets.
Don't use the same plate or utensils for raw and cooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood because cross-contamination can occur. Raw juices can spread bacteria to your safely cooked food and this can cause foodborne illness.
 
At risk populations (older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems) should make sure to bring unpasteurized fruit juice or cider to a rolling boil and then cool before serving.
At risk populations (older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems) should avoid raw seafood such as sushi, raw oysters, clams, mussels and refrigerated smoked seafood.
 
At risk populations (older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems) should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked eggs. Eggs should be cooked until yolk is firm.
Use pre-packaged deli meats within 4 days, preferably 2-3 days, after opening; even if this date is different than the best-before date. Best-before dates apply to unopened packages only. Deli meats sliced at the grocer should also be eaten within 4 days, preferably 2-3 days.
 
At risk populations (older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems) should avoid raw oysters, clams and mussels. It is safer to enjoy these cooked until shell is opened.
 

Did you know?

As we age it becomes harder for our immune systems to ward off harmful bacteria.

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